Friday, May 7, 2010

Of Gratitude and Space Invaders
I've been walking on air recently, elevated by the joy that my youngest son, almost-12, has brought to my everyday life.
Don't misunderstand, my son is a well-rounded kid, offering equal opportunities for parental pride and gratitude right along side parental annoyance and frustration.
We have battled against life's circumstances to get him this far in one piece. We've stood up against the grief of his father's death, separation from his adult siblings, non-medicated attention deficit with astonishing, but very real short-term memory deficiency, my health issues, and we've come out, at this point and for now, way ahead of the pack of obstacles that have been thrown on the path of our lives.
The teen years are fast approaching, and who knows what challenges that phase will bring?
But for now, today, I am reveling in our immediate victories.
Throughout this school year, he has maintained honor-roll grades, an achievement he has had to work diligently to realize, and he has stayed out of trouble's path.
More often than not, he remembers to complete his chores on the appointed day.
He, and I mean he, primarily by himself and with great determination, raised more than $100 toward Boy Scout summer camp. His next goal is to join the junior high football team. To that end, he is training regularly to improve his endurance and skills.
He has goals and he works for them. I couldn't be happier or more grateful for these wonderful days. My wish for every one reading this is that you each have someone or something in your lives that brings you as much joy and satisfaction.
As I've written before (borrowed from Counting Crows) hold on to these moments as they pass.
A news item that came to my attention examines the flip-side of gratitude.
I'll first remind readers that I'm a staunch Independent, politically speaking. I'm an equal-opportunity supporter or nay-sayer.
A headline along the lines of "Students Told to Remove American Flag Shirts," caught my eye.
It seems that on May 5, several high school students here in the continental U.S.A. were told by school administrators to remove t-shirts and bandannas (worn on the heads of two of the, as I recall, 5 or so students) bearing the likeness of the American flag.
Back in the day, (60s, 70s) it was considered close to treason to wear any item of clothing fashioned from an American flag. These days, the flag as fashion has become widely accepted.
But these administrators were not concerned about acts of treason against the United States, or even a fashion faux pas.
No, indeed, these administrators were concerned that the image of the American flag on an American citizen's shirt, in an American school, on American soil would offend, (thereby possibly inciting violence among), students of Mexican origin on a Mexican holiday.
One young lady of Mexican descent was quoted as opining that the American-flag clad students were "disrespecting" her heritage by wearing the shirts and bandannas.
The patriotic offenders were told to remove the American attire, or face suspension. The boys (I think they were all boys) opted to leave school, rather than forsake their county's flag, and their right to wear the symbol of their Nation proudly and without fear of harassment.
Now, I have considered that there may be more to this story. Maybe the boys are brutish trouble-causers sympathetic to the views and practices of white supremacists. Maybe they were looking to incite unrest or violence. Maybe their aim was to intimidate students of Mexican origin. But as I read through the article, expecting some reference to the students having a history of trouble-making, nothing of that sort was noted.
It was noted, however, that the school district did not agree with the school administrator's determination, and allowed the students to return to school attired in the patriotic garb.
The Mexican girl further reasoned that Americans should celebrate, with honor and respect, Cinco de Mayo.
So back into the far-reaches of memory I traveled, recalling that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (Sept.15 is), but the memorialization of a brave force of 4,000 Mexicans who smashed an army of 8,000 French invaders who were aided by Mexican traitors at Pueblo, Mexico on May 5, 1862.
Led by a Col. Diaz, this force, twice out-numbered by it's adversaries, among other things, prevented the French from supplying the Confederacy during the Civil War, which was raging to the north of the Mexican/French conflict.
Following this awesome victory, Union forces were sent to the Tex/Mex border, and Mexico was liberally supplied with weapons and ammunition sufficient to put-down the French. American soldiers discharged from the Union army were sent on to the border with our government's blessing, their uniform and rifle, if they promised to join the Mexicans against the French.
American soldiers marched in a victory parade in Mexico City.
Now being of French descent on my mother's side, I can be a big enough person to say,
"OK, the Mexicans were good friends to my country. They helped us during the Civil War."
But I can also say that the French directly aided and fought along side the Americans during the Revolution.
Does that give me the right to want that recognized? Yes, it does.
Does that give me the right to insist that a day be sanctified to recognize the French contribution to the birth of the U.S.? No, I don't think it does.
If I'm in France on Bastille Day (French Independence Day, July 14) do I have the right to wear an American flag t-shirt? I believe I do.
If a French citizen is here in America on July 4, do I have the right to ask that French person to remove a t-shirt bearing the French flag? No, I don't feel that I have that right.
Because American troops aided the Mexicans after May 5, do I have the right to go to Mexico on May 5 and insist that Mexicans remove likenesses of their flag from apparel because I am offended that the American contribution is not being respected? Again, no.
The sense of entitlement and self- importance and lack of desire or effort to melt into the melting pot among today's newest Americans is disturbing, to say the least.
European-based immigrants melted into the American pot as well, discreetly and quickly as they could. They were cruelly ridiculed, treated with violence, and many suffered death because of prejudices against them.
Modern immigrants are protected by the law to a much greater extent than those who came before them were. They are able to pursue educations&government benefits even before they become citizens.
Of course, some are beaten to death and discriminated against, but for the most part, versus the lives of early immigrants, and the lives of the forced "immigrants" of slavery, today's immigrants have much to be grateful for. They should behave accordingly. Enough said.
Take a deep breath, I'm almost through!
A news item that brought out my "I knew it all along!" tendencies involved Steven Hawking's prediction that aliens likely exist.
That may be the good news for all you Area-54, X-File, Star Trek, etc., enthusiasts, but the part where I get to say "I told you so," just before being obliterated by an alien's ray-gun comes because Mr. Hawking hypothesizes that the aliens will be far superior to we humans and hostile.
There's that "I knew it all along!"
I have always surmised that any being able to travel through time and space to get to our little rotating orb would also possess the ability and desire to annihilate the Human race.
And why not? Like rats on a wheel with blinders on, like fleas on a dog, the Human race has raped, pillaged and plundered this planet to the extent that would make any pirate proud to call us his descendants.
But you all know how I feel about the Human race and the state of the planet.
The thing is, although we humans may deserve to be wiped out for our greed and piggishness (it'll be interesting to see what spell check makes of that!), I have to disagree with Mr. Hawking regarding the existence of extra-terrestrials beyond bacteria and elements such as water and ice.
I lived on Long Island's South Shore and East End for 38 years.
Never, ever in all my nights on the beach, under a glorious, clear, star-filled, moon-lit sky,have I seen anything that could be construed as an alien space craft. I've seen a comet. I've seen shooting stars and eclipses. But in all those 38 years, never once did I witness a UFO, and that's not for trying.
There were nights and periods when my friends and I actively watched for UFOs.
I've seen ghosts, but never aliens, to my knowledge.
Maybe the ghosts were aliens. Maybe we pass aliens on the street every day. Maybe I'm wrong. But for now, I'm grateful that I feel confident that I will never experience the annihilation of our race by aliens.
For now, I'm grateful for another day here on Earth.
What do you think?
Be well & happy.
Oh, by the way, it looks as though I'm publishing once-a-week on Fridays these days.

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